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VICE: POST-COLONIAL COLONIALISM: The West Extorts Way More Money from Africa Than It Gives in Aid June 16, 2017

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Many decades after the official end of the western empires in Africa, the continent is still being sucked dry by a cartel made up of small local elites, multi-national companies and foreign governments. The money given to Africa to help its so-called “development” is referred to as “aid”, when in fact it should be seen as a form of reparations for a history of colonisation and ongoing domination that has left the African people almost as far from economic and social justice as they were when the European empires packed up and left in the years following the end of the Second World War.

POST-COLONIAL COLONIALISM
The West Extorts Way More Money from Africa Than It Gives in Aid

By OSCAR RICKETT, VICE, Jun 15 2017



We should be putting our western guilt to good use and pressuring government to regulate “investment” in the continent.


The world’s second-largest continent, Africa, is still defined in the western media in just two principle ways.

The more “woke” understanding of Africa is the idea of “Africa Rising”, which is defined by images of young people on bustling streets speaking on mobile phones. “Africa Rising” stories tend to focus on smart entrepreneurs doing something tech-related in massive urban centres like Lagos, Nairobi or Cape Town. They promote an image of the continent that is considered modern and future-focused. These stories are often, as the Kenyan journalist Parselelo Kantai once put it to me, “insidious little fictions manufactured by global corporate finance”.

The other main narrative is the more familiar one: hapless Africa, the tragic continent that can only continue to survive with the help of aid money provided to it by outsiders. This is the narrative of Live Aid and Bono, the story told to us immediately after news reports of famine and unrest in places that, we are made to believe, just can’t get by without western charity.

Given these two themes, it would seem unlikely that more money is taken out of the 47 countries that form what is commonly called “Sub-Saharan Africa” than is put back in. Yet, British and African campaign groups, including Global Justice Now, released a report this month which found that, in 2015, much more money was taken out of Africa in the form of illegal extraction of natural resources, tax avoidance and spiralling interest on debt repayments than was “given” to the continent in the form of aid and grants.

The report, entitled Honest Accounts 2017 , finds that the countries of Africa are “collectively net creditors to the rest of the world, to the tune of $41.3 billion [£32.2 billion] in 2015”.

Rather than Africa being a hapless continent dependent on the rest of the world, it is the exploited continent whose natural resources are enriching a local and global elite at the expense of the vast majority of its citizens, and whose governments can do little about the illegal syphoning of revenue into tax havens.

According to War on Want, 101 (mostly British) companies listed on the London Stock Exchange control an identified $1.05 trillion (£820 billion) worth of resources in Africa in just five commodities: oil, gold, diamonds, coal and platinum. Twenty-five of those companies are incorporated in tax havens.

While African countries receive around $19 billion (£14 billion) in aid in the form of grants, $68 billion (£53 billion) is taken out in capital flight. The main culprits are multinational corporations and corrupt officials with their large infrastructure of lawyers, bankers, accountants and financial advisors skilled in tax dodging.

The main device used is transfer pricing. By overpricing imports and under-pricing exports on customs documents, companies and individuals can move money to tax havens. This means that multi-national companies deliberately misreport the value of their imports or exports in order to reduce the tax they have to pay on them. Furthermore, these same companies repatriate $32 billion (£25 billion) in profits made in Africa to their home countries every year. Money made on the continent of Africa, then, is returned to enrich those outside of Africa.



The report goes on to say that African governments paid out $18 billion (£14 billion) in debt interest and principal payments in 2015. Though they received $32.8 billion (£25.6 billion) in loans, the overall level of debt is rising rapidly, and loans often lock African governments into even more debt: private lenders, the report notes, “are encouraged to act irresponsibly because when debt crises arise, the IMF, World Bank and other institutions lend more money, which enables the high interest to private lenders to be paid, whilst the debt keeps growing”. Ghana is losing 30 percent of its government revenue to debt repayments. Private lenders benefit, while ordinary Africans suffer.

Illegal logging, fishing and the trade in wildlife and plants are also hurting Africa, with an estimated $29 billion (£22.6 billion) a year being stolen from the continent through these practices. Climate change is hitting the continent particularly badly; though of course the extractive and industrial practices that led to climate change were a phenomenon of non-African countries.

As Bernard Adaba, policy analyst with ISODEC in Ghana, says: “‘Development’ is a lost cause in Africa while we are haemorrhaging billions every year to extractive industries, western tax havens and illegal logging and fishing. Some serious structural changes need to be made to promote economic policies that enable African countries to best serve the needs of their people rather than simply being cash cows for western corporations and governments.”

Many decades after the official end of the western empires in Africa, the continent is still being sucked dry by a cartel made up of small local elites, multi-national companies and foreign governments. The money given to Africa to help its so-called “development” is referred to as “aid”, when in fact it should be seen as a form of reparations for a history of colonisation and ongoing domination that has left the African people almost as far from economic and social justice as they were when the European empires packed up and left in the years following the end of the Second World War.

Recognising the troubling role western governments and companies play in the impoverishment of Africa could serve as a beginning to reverse this process. The Honest Accounts report proposes a number of steps that can be taken to help reverse the flow of money out of Africa, including putting less faith in the extractives industry, enabling transparent and responsible lending and regulating the investment that corporations bring in to African countries.

Tax havens are a key issue, one that was recognised in Labour’s election manifesto, which said that the “current global tax system is deeply unjust”. Jeremy Corbyn’s party promises to “act decisively on tax havens”, which play a key role in allowing vast sums of money to be taken out of Africa. The UK enablesthis wealth extraction to take place and sits at the head of a vast network of tax havens.

Finally, there is the need for more public recognition of what is going on. This is not about stoking up western guilt; it is about identifying the causes behind rising inequality in Africa and elsewhere, and about correcting a lazy media narrative that patronises and insults Africans while keeping everyone in a state of ignorance. The truth is this: Africa is still being plundered. It is time western governments and the western media stopped pretending otherwise.

 


 

Youths, Economy and Corruption: The African Outlook at World Economic Forum on Africa 2015 June 6, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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The Nigerian Association of Criminology, Terrorism and Political Violence Studies

By Femi Senu, Director of Research – NACT-PVS

The 25th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa was held in Cape Town, South Africa, between 3 June 2015 and 5 June 2015. Over 1,000 leaders from business, politics and civil society convened including South Africa’s current President, Jacob Zuma and former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

During the WEF, African political and business leaders made clear that transparent and accountable financial systems had to be promoted to aid social and economic rights such as education and healthcare for the continent’s youth. With Africa losing millions from illicit financial flows, the focus on economic growth has given rise to deep inequalities, pervasive poverty and struggling infrastructure despite the fact that Africa swims in mineral resources and a large labour market.

Reflecting on the three day conference, its aim has been to connect Africa to the world, creating ethical business operations with concurrent…

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The Tigray only and unbalanced discriminatory growth: Severity of poverty increases in Ethiopia, UNDP reveals in its National Human Development Report 2014 which was launched on 1st May 2015. May 3, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African Poor, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Free development vs authoritarian model, Poverty, Schools in Oromia, The State of Food Insecurity in Ethiopia.
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“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

-George Orwell, Animal Farm

“The very common way that the EPRDF and its agents try to shift the public attention from lack of human and democratic rights and the daylight looting of the country’s resources, is by referring to the ‘impressive’ economic development registered in their rule. If they are talking about the only region that they are exclusively devoted to developing, then, they are absolutely right.”

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/opinion-why-ethiopias-growth-rhetoric-is-faulty-africa/

In TPLF /Tigray dominated minority tyrannic regime of Orwellian social and development policy, all nations and nationalities  in theory are equal in Ethiopia, but in reality Tigray  is more equal than others. This is not a development process.

According to UNDP report, while more than  45% of children in Tigray have achieved Net Lower Secondary Enrollment, the statistics for Oromia is only 16.9%, very huge inequality variations. The report indicated that  while Human development Index (HDI) of Tigray is the highest (above national average),  states  such as Oromia,  Afar, Ogaden and Amhara have the lowest HDIs, below the national HDI of 0.461. These are the outcomes of Tigray only, exclusionist, social, economic and development policies of the ruling regime. UNDP is not exposing the Tigray only growth and development strategy but we can read from its data and graphs.

Ethiopia, expected years of schooling Ethiopia, National Human Development Report 2014 expected year of schooling by regions

As the TPLF has been engaged (https://oromiaeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/amnesty-internationals-report-because-i-am-oromo-a-sweeping-repression-in-oromia/) in destabilizing, robbing and massive evictions of people from their ancestral home and land grabs in Oromia, by all sorts of engagement, resource and soil transfers,   it has conducting massive  subsidized development  in its Tigray home. In other studies,  BBC Magazine in its 20th April 2015 publication  under the title ‘ Turning Ethiopia’s desert green,’reports: ” A generation ago Ethiopia’s Tigray province was stricken by a famine that shocked the world. Today, as Chris Haslam reports, local people are using ancient techniques to turn part of the desert green. In the pink-streaked twilight, a river of humanity is flowing across Tigray’s dusty Hawzien plain. This cracked and desiccated landscape, in Ethiopia’s far north, occupies a dark corner of the global collective memory. Thirty years ago, not far from here, the BBC’s Michael Buerk first alerted us to a biblical famine he described as “the closest thing to hell on earth”. Then Bob Geldof wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas? – a curious question to ask of perhaps the world’s most devoutly Christian people – and thereafter the name Tigray became synonymous with refugees, Western aid and misery. The Tigrayan people were depicted as exemplars of passive suffering, dependent on the goodwill of the rest of the planet just to get through the day without dying. But here, outside the village of Abr’ha Weatsbaha, I’m seeing a different version. From all directions, streams of people are trickling into that human river.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-32348749.

Martin Plaut’s analysis which is based on world banks report is also interesting and important to refer here which is as follows:-

The World Bank has just published an authoritative study of poverty reduction in Ethiopia. The fall in overall poverty has been dramatic and is to be greatly welcomed. But who has really benefited?

This is the basic finding:

In 2000 Ethiopia had one of the highest poverty rates in the world, with 56% of the population living on less than US$1.25 PPP a day. Ethiopian households experienced a decade of remarkable progress in wellbeing since then and by the start of this decade less than 30% of the population was counted as poor.

There are of course many ways of answering the question – “who benefited” – were they men or women, urban or rural people. All these approaches are valid.

The Ethnic Dimension

But in Ethiopia, where Ethic Federalism has been the primary driver of government policy one cannot ignore the ethnic dimension.

Here this graph is particularly telling:

Ethiopia poverty reduction

Tigray first

The answer is clear: it is the people of Tigray, whose party, the TPLF led the fight against the Mengistu regime and took power in 1991, who benefited most. What is also striking is that the Oromo (who are the largest ethnic group) hardly benefited at all.

This is what the World Bank says about this: “Poverty reduction has been faster in those regions in which poverty was higher and as a result the proportion of the population living beneath the national poverty line has converged to around one in 3 in all regions in 2011.”

The World Bank does little to explain just why Tigray has done (relatively) so well, but it does point to the importance of infrastructure investment and the building of roads. It also points to this fact: “Poverty rates increase by 7% with every 10 kilometers from a market town. As outlined above, farmers that are more remote are less likely to use agricultural inputs, and are less likely to see poverty reduction from the gains in agricultural growth that are made. The generally positive impact of improvements in infrastructure and access to basic services such as education complements the evidence for Ethiopia that suggests investing in roads reduces poverty.”

Not surprisingly, the TPLF under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and beyond concentrated their investment on their home region – Tigray. The results are plain to see.  https://martinplaut.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/ethiopias-poverty-reduction-who-benefits/

In its  2014 National Human Development Report, which has been written on the theme of “Accelerating Inclusive Growth for Sustainable Human Development in Ethiopia,”  UNDP indicates that 25 million Ethiopians currently remain trapped in poverty and vulnerability. This and many Ethiopians just above the poverty line are vulnerable to shocks and food insecurity. Maternal health care has lagged well behind other health statistics and the availability of effective health care is inconsistent across the country. UNDP’s educational indicators suggest ongoing problems with the quality of education, as shown by retention rates and educational performance markers.  UNDP says, perhaps most worrying from the standpoint of inclusive growth are the high rates of un- and underemployment in both urban and rural areas, especially as large numbers of productive jobs for the poor and near-poor are needed under current and projected labour market trends. Economic growth over the past decade has generally meant an increase in productivity and output levels in some parts of the economy, but these have been accompanied by increasing severity of poverty.  The absolute number of the poor is roughly the same as 15 years ago and a significant proportion of the population hovers just above the poverty line and is vulnerable to shocks. Moreover, the severity of poverty 2 increased from 2.7 per cent in 1999/2000 to 3.1 per cent in 2010/11 (MoFED, 2013b). The prevalence of vulnerabilities  and food insecurity are  on the rise.

According to UNDP report, during the last three years (2010/11-2012/13), inflation was in double digits. The inflation rate, which was 18 per cent in 2010/11, increased to 33.7 per cent in 2011/12, declined to 13.5 per cent in 2012/13 and fell further to 8.1 per cent in December 2013. Other studies demonstrate that inflation figures have always been in double digits including 2013 and 2014 and at present.

Further,  UNDP says with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.435 in 2013, the country is still classified as a “low human development” country, based on UNDP’s Human Development Index. Even though Ethiopia is one of the 10 countries globally that has attained the largest absolute gains in its HDI over the last several years,  in the most recent Human Development Report (2014) Ethiopia ranks 173rd out of 187 countries. Thus,  its Human Development Index (HDI) has not moved appreciably during the past decade, when compared with other developing countries that have registered similar growth rates. Looking at the HDI values of Seychelles, Tunisia and Algeria, which are in the high HDI bracket, and the other 12 African countries, which are in the medium HDI bracket, the major reasons why Ethiopia is still in the low HDI bracket are low education performance (particularly low mean years of schooling) and low GNI per capita. The minimum mean years of schooling and GNI per capita for medium HDI countries were 3.5 years and US$3,000, respectively in contrast to Ethiopia’s mean years of schooling of 2.6 years and GNI per capita of US$1,300. The inequality-adjusted Human Development index (IHDI), which is basically the HDI discounted for inequalities, is also computed for Ethiopia. Between 2005 and 2013, the IHDI increased from 0.349 to 0.459 indicating an average human development loss of 0.5 per cent per annum due to inequalities in health, access to education and income. According to (UNDP 2014), Ethiopia’s IHDI for 2013 was 0.307 in contrast to HDI of 0.435 indicating an overall human development loss of 29.4 per cent.

With regard to regional disparities in HDI values, while Tigray is significantly above national average,  the four states of Afar, Somali, Amhara and Oromia have the lowest HDIs, below the national HDI of 0.461.

The outcome of the development  strategy of Tigray only when mathematically averaged to the whole  regions cannot hide TPLF’s Apartheid policy  on Oromia and the rest as it is only the development focus for 5% of the  94 million population. Thus, Tigray is rich but Ethiopia is poor. Ethiopia is rich and fast growing only for development tourists those who lodge in Finfinne and  tour to Tigray to take  a sample and conclude the result for the whole states.

With regard to regional disparities in HDI values, while Tigray is significantly above national average,  the four states of Afar, Somali, Amhara and Oromia have the lowest HDIs, below the national HDI of 0.461.

Another social indicator which  demonstrates that Tigray is more equal than others is  health services. UNDP’s report confirms that there are wide inequalities in the immunization status of children in Ethiopia. Children of educated women, rich households, and  Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) and Tigray State have higher chances of being fully immunized. Children from the richest and middle income households are less likely to have no immunization at all (by 74 per cent and 57 per cent respectively) compared with those from the poorest households. Children from SNNPR, Oromiya and Amhara are 3.82, 7.00 and 3.65 times less likely to be fully immunized compared with those from Tigray, which has the second highest proportion of fully immunized children.  According to UNDP,  a report by Save the Children (2014) also raises concerns about equity in health services citing how immunization coverage is different among different income groups, and between urban and rural areas. According to the report, children from richest households are twice as likely to be immunized compared to those from the poorest households and children in urban areas are twice as likely to be immunized as those in rural areas. Based on revised data from the National Water Sanitation and Health Inventory, national potable water supply coverage increased from 58 per cent to 68.4 per cent between 2009/10 and 2012/13, reflecting an increase in both rural and urban coverage. Even though many health outcomes have improved significantly over the last decade, Ethiopia is still lagging behind on some measures. For example, Ethiopia has still higher than expected shares of malnutrition compared with countries at the same income level. What is especially striking about Ethiopia’s health data is the exceptionally high level of maternal mortality, given Ethiopia’s income level.

UNDP argues that that development can be inclusive and reduce poverty only if all people contribute to creating opportunities, share the benefits of development and participate in decision making.

Ethiopia at a Glance (UNDP Report Data)

Ethiopia at glance, UNDP Data

Population: 85.8 million (2013)

GDP: US$46.6 billion (2013)

GDP per capita: US$550 (2013)

Annual Average Br/US$ exchange rate: 18.3 (2012/13)

Life expectancy at birth (years): 62.2 (2013)

Primary school gross enrolment rate (%): 95.3 (2012/13)

Births attended by skilled health professional (%): 23.1 (2012//13)

Contraceptive prevalence rate (%): 28.6 (2011)

Literacy rate (% of both sexes aged 15 and above): 46.7 (2011)

Unemployment rate (urban) (%): 16.5 (2012/13)

Unemployment rate among urban youth (15-29) (%): 23.3 (2011/12)

Areas further than 5 km from all-weather roads (%): 45.8 (2012/13)

Mobile phone subscribers (million): 23.8 (2012/13)

Poverty incidence (%): 26.0 (GTP/APR 2012/13)

HD Index: 0.435 (2013) HDI rank: 173/187 (2013)

http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/nhdr2015-ethiopia-en.pdf

Poverty and Underdevelopment in Low Income Countries May 2, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Economics, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, The extents and dimensions of poverty in Ethiopia.
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OEthiopia poverty reductionEthiopia

Poverty can be an outcome of inefficient use of common resources and a result of exclusive mechanisms. Weak policy environment, inadequate infrastructures, weak access to technology and credits can cause poverty. Poverty can also result from the use of mechanisms by some groups in a society or community to exclude others from participating in democratic and economic development process (Ajakaiye and Adeyeye, 2002). This is defined by Hazell and Haddad ( 2001) as social deprivation…From the different reasons mentioned above in relation to poverty in developing countries, it is clear that strategies to alleviate poverty and help poor people must aim at improving the productivity and the living conditions of smallholder farmers and landless agriculture workers who constitute the majority of poor people. Furthermore, agriculture is seen as central to rural development. It is the major economic driver, the hub of rural activities, and permanent estate (IRG, 2002). The improvement in agriculture productivity is based on agricultural research and improved technologies. In many developing counties government must play an important role in this domain. However poor people may benefit from agriculture productivity only if favorable macroeconomic and trade policies good infrastructure and access to credit, land, and markets is in place.

As far as land is concerned, government in many developing countries must undertake land reform program not only for a better distribution of land but also to create mechanism capable to define and enforce property right. Land reform can promote smallholder entry into the market, reduce inequalities in land distribution, increase efficiency and thus boost output.

africagrowthdiscourse

poverty1

The ubiquitous problem of poverty continues to confound development practitioners, politicians and researchers alike. In spite of countless efforts to eliminate poverty over the past decade, 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day and 880 million people still live on less than $1. Most of these depend on agriculture for their livelihoods (World Development Report, 2008). While some progress has been made in some countries, the ambitious goal of halving poverty by the year 2015 appears like it will not be achieved. The objective of this paper is to characterize the problem of poverty and attempt to proffer possible insights on pathways that may jettison the rural poor out of misery into prosperous economic agents with a brighter hope for the future.

An Anatomy of Poverty

Poverty is a multifaceted concept. It affects many aspects of the human conditions, including physical, moral and psychological. povertyAccording to Sen…

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Rich Men in London Still Deciding Africa’s Future March 29, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa and debt, Africa Rising, African Poor, Agriculture, Aid to Africa, Corruption, Corruption in Africa, Development.
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Director of the Global Justice Now Nick Dearden said:

“It’s scandalous that UK aid money is being used to carve up Africa in the interests of big business. This is the exact opposite of what is needed, which is support to small-scale farmers and fairer distribution of land and resources to give African countries more control over their food systems. Africa can produce enough food to feed its people. The problem is that our food system is geared to the luxury tastes of the richest, not the needs of ordinary people. Here the British government is using aid money to make the problem even worse.”

Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Benin, Malawi and Senegal are all involved in the New Alliance.

In a January 2015 piece in The Guardian, Dearden continued by saying that development was once regarded as a process of breaking with colonial exploitation and transferring power over resources from the ‘first’ to the ‘third world’, involving a revolutionary struggle over the world’s resources. However, the current paradigm is based on the assumption that developing countries need to adopt neo-liberal policies and that public money in the guise of aid should facilitate this. The notion of ‘development’ has become hijacked by rich corporations and the concept of poverty depoliticised and separated from structurally embedded power relations.

Business in Ghana

By Colin Todhunter, Global Research

Some £600 million in UK aid money courtesy of the taxpayer is helping big business increase its profits in Africa via the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. In return for receiving aid money and corporate investment, African countries have to change their laws, making it easier for corporations to acquire farmland, control seed supplies and export produce.

Last year, Director of the Global Justice Now Nick Dearden said:

“It’s scandalous that UK aid money is being used to carve up Africa in the interests of big business. This is the exact opposite of what is needed, which is support to small-scale farmers and fairer distribution of land and resources to give African countries more control over their food systems. Africa can produce enough food to feed its people. The problem is that our food system is geared to the luxury tastes of the…

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Ethiopia: Bad governance and abysmal poverty January 5, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa Rising, African Poor, Corruption, Corruption in Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model, Illicit financial outflows from Ethiopia.
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O

 

Ethiopia:  Home of  Thousands  of Garbage Scavangers

 http://www.tesfanews.net/ethiopia-home-for-thousands-of-garbage-scavengers/

British journalist Caroline Knowles writes that Addis Ababa’s city dump (aka Koshe) as the main source of survival for many poor Ethiopians.  But, Why the Ethiopian government allow its people to live like this? Is it because they don’t know or because they don’t care?

By Caroline Knowles,

MY first sight of Koshe, Addis Ababa’s giant 50-year-old landfill site, is from the highway. It runs alongside it, and away from the road as far as the eye can see: a giant, murky, grey-brown raised area of partially decomposed rubbish, with occasional bright specks of colour. As my hopes rise from having found it, my heart sinks as I try to take it in.

The interpreter I have engaged for this mission through my contacts, a junior academic at Addis Ababa University, is not keen on going ahead. Leaving the taxi and crossing the highway by the bridge, I try to absorb the panoramic view afforded by this elevated viewpoint over the highway. 

This 36-hectare site – shrinking as the city attempts to regulate it – is patrolled from the air by large vultures, diving into the rubbish. Motley crews of wild dogs gambolling and snatching at the soft ground patrol it at ground level. Smoke rises in several places, adding a layer of haze to the murky colour scheme. Yellow bulldozers nose the heap and shift and level it; municipal rubbish trucks and flatbed trucks with skips arrive from all over the city and discharge their contents.

Between the dogs, the birds and the machines there was something else, something I could only slowly take in: 200 to 300 people, dressed in the same murky hues as the rubbish dump, backs bent, hooks in hand, were working on its surface.

Feeling queasy I walk towards the end of the bridge. In order to reach the steps and the rubbish, I must walk past three young men who are using the vantage point of the bridge for surveillance and information gathering. In an unspoken negotiation I don’t understand, they take in my camera, and my shoulder bag containing digital recorders and money, and let me pass. This silent confrontation, between the comforts of my world and the difficulties of theirs, only further develops my anxieties.

Korah dump in Addis Ababa is home to around 130,000 residents of Addis Ababa who survive from the garbage one way or the other

Descending the steps, I walk to the edge of the dump where I am met by the site supervisor and his aides. They want a stamped authorisation of my visit from the relevant municipal department. What looks like a vast area, open to the surrounding countryside, is as closed to me as a Korean petrochemical plant. I turn back and head into the city to secure the relevant authorisation.

TRASH TALKS

The city dump is an inventory, of a kind, of its material life. Addis in rubbish is not London or Moscow in rubbish. Rubbish provides a crude and deeply flawed account of cities and their social, political and economic contexts. Rubbish displays social, material and income differences.

Indeed, some people’s rubbish provides others with the fabric of their everyday life. Maybe this is the best way to think about Koshe – as a redistribution centre which indexes the differences between people’s life-journeys, refracted through material cultures at their point of disposal.

Korah dump site in Addis Ababa.  Hundreds survive from food that was dumped at the site

Not just the content, the handling of rubbish displays cities too. How cities deal with their rubbish reveals them. It is a major challenge for municipal authorities in Addis, who are only able to deal with two-thirds of the rubbish, distributed in collection points all over a city that is fast expanding – leaving the rest to private contractors and the age-old informal dumping practices on streets and in rivers. Thus rubbish provides a visual commentary on urban citizens’ behaviour as well as the efficacy of municipal governance.

SCRATCHING A LIVING

Getting myself into the rubbish is a story of municipal offices cluttered with old computers, fans, desks, officials and permissions. It is about writing a letter in Amharic explaining what I want to do and why. It is about waiting until the electricity comes back on and we can photocopy my university ID. There are phone calls to the landfill site and arrangements are made. Everybody is charming. I’ve come from London to take a look at the rubbish. Why? I am following a piece of plastic around the world. Really! First world problems!

I go back to Koshe – which means ‘dirty’ in Amharic – and hand over the necessary papers to the site supervisor, in his makeshift office at the roadside of the dump. Minutes later, I am scrambling after him, out on to the rubbish heap, navigating around the dogs which I fear, and the areas where it is soft underfoot and I sink up to my knees. My stomach is churning with fear. My interpreter and I are using Olbas oil to mask the smell.

– – – – – –

– – – – – –

We stop north of the main road, where it is firmer underfoot, in the area where the activity is concentrated. This is the place to which the municipal authorities and the site supervisor direct the trucks to dump their loads. A single white towelling slipper, with the Hilton Hotel logo on it, stands out in the grey-brown mush.

This area is a hive of activity that peaks to a frenetic pace with the arrival of new loads, and then falls away, leaving a more continuous stream of slower activity, and a legacy of dust and smoke that gets in everyone’s eyes.

Korah dump site in Addis Ababa.  Hundreds survive from food that was dumped at the site

As rubbish trucks turn off the main road on to the edge of the site, a group of five or six young men jump on the back and ride to the dumping area with it. This puts them at an advantage for grabbing the best items as the truck discharges its load onto the tip, but not without risk. The mechanism that crushes the rubbish occasionally catches a young man in its deadly and disfiguring grasp.

As the young men jump off with the rubbish and begin picking items that catch the eye, the line of men and women, that has formed along both sides of the truck, spring into action, grabbing items and stashing them in woven plastic sacks. These are held tightly in one hand; in the other a homemade metal hook with a white handle, used to grab and dig into the grey-brown surface of the heap, is held. This hooked instrument earns the pickers – sometimes referred to as scavengers – the name ‘scratchers’.

The moment of discharge unleashes a tense scramble for the most valuable items; a competition in which masculine physical strength prevails, and young, agile, women put up a good fight. Scratchers then go on searching, or rest until the next truck arrives, or regroup around the bulldozers unearthing new bounty. The social and material relationships of the dump demand skilled navigation.

From the vantage point of the dump, the scratchers rework the geographies and hierarchies of the city. The tensest flurries of competitive scratching accompany the arrival of trucks from the most affluent areas, with the best rubbish. The Bole area, with its upscale detached housing, mall, hotels and the international airport, sends the most prized items, the cast-offs of affluence, including waste airline food in large green plastic bags, to the dump. Scratchers collect the food discarded by airline passengers for themselves, leaving a large pool of bright green plastic bags, which attracts a herd of goats.

Korah dump site in Addis Ababa.  Awareness campaign to help the thousands of Addis Ababa residents that survived from the garbage

Rubbish from the central part of the city, from international hotels, the African Union HQ buildings and the embassies, is similarly sought after, and monopolised by the fittest young men. Scratchers recognise the sources of rubbish from the colours and types of trucks used by the different sub-cities and private contractors. And they recognise the drivers and their helpers, who regularly work the same areas. The discarded traces of the city’s more affluent lives, especially foreign residents and visitors, most animate the dump. Rubbish logs social inequalities in cities and provides a minimal redress.

The dump has temporal rhythms. Scratchers know what time the trucks arrive from different parts of the city. From 8am through the morning is the busiest time. The dump is geared to municipal collection and transportation. By 5pm things are dying down as the trucks stop for the night, and the scratching continues with fewer scratchers at a slower pace. Bulldozers moving stuff around and digging into the surface of the dump also provide new scratching opportunities, and a lively crowd gathers around them. Scratching is a 24-hour activity, with people arriving after their working day is over. Some scratchers work throughout the night wearing torches attached to headbands. Scratching it seems is a (stigmatised) way of life as much as a way of getting by.

Within the urban geographies of affluence, materials establish another set of hierarchies. Scratchers search for anything they can use for themselves, or resell. Materials have a value in recycling, providing an afterlife for discarded objects. Metals, including nails, are the most valuable booty, and men dominate this, although a few women have ventured into metals too. Wood has value as firewood. Tourist clothes and shoes can be cashed in at the Mercato salvage section. Some scratchers just come to eat.

But plastics are the most ubiquitous material on the dump, and among plastics, water bottles the scratchers refer to as ‘highland’, after a popular brand of bottled water, dominate, and in this niche women prevail.

Scratchers specialise in particular materials. Specialisms result from advice from experienced scratchers, from serendipity, or from knowledge of shifting recycling prices, gathered at the edge of the dump. Here materials are counted or weighed, and turned into cash, with the agents from factories using recycled materials.

A pile of white dusty material arrives from the leather factory. The dogs take up residence. They are ejected by a group of men, who have decided that this is a good place to sit, while waiting for the next truck.

..Why does the Ethiopian government put resources into regulating who can visit their trash dump to make sure that they don’t get too much bad publicity for how their people are being treated instead of investing those resources into getting people out of the dump?

In their working clothes – they scrub up outside of work and look completely different – scratchers are dressed similarly and grimily, making them the same colour as the rubbish heap. Men wear trousers, shirts and tee shirts, baseball caps and sometimes hoodies to protect their heads from the sun. Women wear scarves and baseball caps, skirts, trousers, t-shirts and blouses. Some carry infants on their backs. All wear sturdy shoes, often trainers.

The scratching population numbers 200–300, but expands after holidays with casual pickers. More women than men do it by a ratio of about three to one, and, while people in their 20s and 30s predominate, ages range from teens to seniors. Most live in the villages around the dump in simple, rusted, corrugated iron dwellings, sometimes with satellite dishes. Rubbish has provided a source of local employment and subsistence for generations over its 50-year history, and is firmly embedded in local calculations of subsistence and accumulation.

About 50 scratchers live in cardboard and plastic makeshift shelters off the edge of the dump, safely away from passing vehicles and next to a pen full of pigs. The rubbish sustains rural arrivals, for whom it works as a gateway to the city, as well as long-term residents, whose rural routes have settled into the past, making them locals.

The ministry and its field agents say that the rubbish dump is a source of dangerous working practices by people who, like the rubbish they sort, are consigned to live beyond the limits of civic life. A litany of accidents, deaths and disfigurements as scratchers take risks to recover value, are recited by the site supervisor:

“Food comes from some place and a guy is going into the truck and he is injured and they take him to hospital but he died. Also someone else lost their legs in an encounter with a bulldozer. Two months ago a man who jumped in the truck dropped off when it broke. In recent accidents, two were women. The bulldozer operator has a lot to do to push the garbage. If they see something they want when the bulldozer moves the garbage, they don’t think about their life.”

In living beyond formal systems of governance, this city suburb of rubbish is more like the Somali borderlands, patrolled by contrabandists and gunrunners, than a part of the city. There is a police station nearby, and policing and the justice system are slowly taking back the dump from a parallel system of authority, a mafia of five ‘big men’. The big men control access by scratchers in exchange for fees, making themselves wealthy in the process. But recently, some of them have been imprisoned, shifting the balance of power towards the authorities.

Once far away, a place outside of the city, outside systems of formal employment, taxation, law and municipal governance, Koshe is now on the edge of a city that has grown to meet it in what are fast becoming its upscale southern suburbs. A new development of large detached houses nearby anticipates this future – new housing for those in a position to benefit from rising prosperity, and a consequent shrinkage and rehabilitation of the landfill site. These changes have far-reaching consequences for the scratchers of Koshe.

– – – – –
NOTE: The above article was first published on The Guardian Newspaper under the title “Inside Addis Ababa’s Koshe Rubbish Tip Where Hundreds Literally Scratch a Living”.  It is an extract from the new book Flip-Flop: A Journey Through Globalisation’s Backroads by Caroline Knowles. (Pluto Press, £18.99).

Source:  Tesfanews.net
Read more at http://www.tesfanews.net/ethiopia-home-for-thousands-of-garbage-scavengers/#IEroeAVG1RmyFU7j.99

Is Poverty the fault, crime, of the poor? August 7, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African Poor, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Development, Development & Change, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Poverty, UN's New Sustainable Development Goals, Youth Unemployment.
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Odaa OromooPoverty

 

 

 

The truth is that humanity must now confront, not just poverty, but a convergence of mega crises, all of which are deeply interconnected: Government corruption; ecological destabilization; structural debt; and hyper-consumerism established in the west and rapidly expanding worldwide.

Martin Kirk & Joe Brewer

 

 

 

 

Right now, a long and complicated process is underway to replace the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015, with new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These will set the parameters for international development for the next 15 years and every government, UN agency, large corporation and NGO, not to mention billions of citizens on the planet have a stake.

Judging by what’s being produced, though, we have a serious problem. The best way to describe it is with an old joke: There’s a man driving through the countryside, trying to find a nearby town. He’s desperately lost and so when he sees a woman by the side of the road he pulls over and asks for directions. The woman scratches her head and says, “Well, I wouldn’t start from here.”

The best evidence of where the SDGs are starting from is the so-called “Zero Draft” document, first released on 3 June and currently undergoing exhaustive consultation.

First things to note are the big differences with the MDGs. Most strikingly, the SDGs suggest an end to poverty is possible in the next 15 years, whereas the MDGs aimed at halving it. The implication is that we’ve made amazing progress and are now on the home stretch. Secondly, the SDGs get serious about climate change. This is a major paradigm shift and, what’s more, they aim squarely at the heart of the problem: patterns of production and consumption. Impressive. Thirdly, reducing inequality “within and between” countries is included, with a goal of its own. This suggests another paradigm shift, and a controversial one because it opens the door, just a crack, to the idea that the extremely rich might be making an undue amount of their money off the backs of the extremely poor.

Of these three goals, it is fairly certain that two will disappear before the process concludes. There is no way the world’s rich governments and corporations will allow a meaningful challenge to production and consumption patterns, or a focus on reducing inequality. This is a given.

However, there is an even more important problem in the Zero Draft document which is that the very starting point of the issue is profoundly misconceived. How do we know? Because of the language. Language is a code that contains a lot more than its literal meaning, and an analysis of semantic frames in the Zero Draft exposes the logic upon which it is built.

Let’s take the opening paragraph:

“Poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. We are therefore committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.”

Poverty can be conceptualised in many ways and in this passage it is presented as both a preventable disease (“to be eradicated”) and as a prison (“to free humanity from”). In both, the framing reveals the framers’ view, conscious or otherwise, on causation. Diseases are just part of the natural world, so if poverty is a disease, it suggest that it is something for which no-one is to blame. The logic of a prison meanwhile is that people are in it for committing a crime. The former denies the idea that human actions may be a cause of inequality and poverty; the latter invokes the idea that poverty is the fault – the crime – of the poor.

Also note the phrase: “the greatest global challenge.” This asserts a logic in which there is a hierarchy of individual issues based on relative importance, with poverty at the top. The truth, however, is that humanity must confront a convergence of mega-crises all of which are deeply interconnected. Government corruption, ecological destabilisation, structural debt, hyper-consumerism established in the West and rapidly expanding in the east and south, for example, are all closely linked. But framing poverty as “the greatest global challenge” conceals the web of interconnected systems and removes them from consideration. The result: No systemic solutions can arise from a logic that denies systemic problems.

There is a good reason for this: it protects the status quo. This logic validates the current system and ordering of power by excusing it of blame and says it can, indeed must, continue business as usual. This is the logic of the corporate capitalist system.

There’s no denying that some excellent progress has been made since 1990 – the year the MDGs measure from – but you don’t need to deny that to know there is something fundamentally wrong with a global economy in which, at a time when wealth grew by 66%, the ratio of average incomes of the richest 5% and the poorest 20% rose from 202:1 to 275:1. Or that the reality masked by the ratios is that one third of all deaths since 1990 (432 million) have been poverty-related. Using UN figures, that’s more than double the combined deaths from the Two World Wars, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, Stalin’s purges, and all military and civilian deaths from the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. What’s more, even though we are now seeing around 400,000 deaths every year from climate change, we are pumping 61% more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere annually than we were in 1990.

The point is that, in light of the logic the language exposes – and we have mentioned just two of many possible examples telling the same story – any glorification of the SDGs we hear over the next year must be seen as reinforcing the logic their language contains.

To really tackle poverty, inequality and climate change, we would need to change that logic to one that is built on an acceptance of how much these problems are the result of human actions. And that the fact of living in poverty makes no inherent comment whatsoever on the person or people concerned, other than that they live in poverty. This in turn would make a wholly different type and scale of change feel like common sense. For example, it would feel obvious to work towards taxing carbon emissions at source and putting in place sanctions against those responsible for hoardingat least $26 trillion in tax havens. We would instinctively reach to introduce laws that give local authorities everywhere the right to revoke corporate charters for serious social or environmental misdeeds anywhere. And the big one: money. Ridiculous though it may sound, right now we allow private banks to control the supply of US dollars, euros and other major currencies that surge through the global economy. These banks charge everyone, including governments, interest on every note, thereby guaranteeing that a constant river of money flows into their coffers, along with immense power. But unfortunately, none of these issues will make it into the SDGs because they contradict the current, dominant logic, and what’s more, because they might actually work and redistribute power and wealth more equitably.

We compound our problems when we allow ourselves to be drawn into processes like the SDG-design are turning out to be. Every ounce of credence given to their frames helps weigh down the center of debate far from where it needs to be. Until the UN can use its powers, resources and privileges to promote policies that grow from the logic of its highest ideals, we may help it, the planet and each other best by divesting our attention from it and finding avenues for change that can.

This article was originally published by Common Dreams.

Read more @ http://commondreams.org/views/2014/08/06/hidden-shallows-global-poverty-eradication-efforts

Justice for the people of Oromia: Why is the largest ethnic group (the Oromo) in Ethiopia also one of the most persecuted? June 26, 2013

Posted by OromianEconomist in Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia.
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